On the eve of UConn’s season finale, first-year coach Kevin Ollie addressed the harsh injury bug that has hit his Huskies in the past week.
Niels Giffey (fractured right index finger) and Tyler Olander (fractured left foot) are out for Saturday’s game against Providence. Shabazz Napier (sprained right foot) and Omar Calhoun (sprained right wrist) could join them.
If that’s the case, UConn may roll out a starting lineup of Ryan Boatright, R.J. Evans, DeAndre Daniels, Leon Tolksdorf and Phil Nolan. Former walk-on Brendan Allen would be the only scholarship player on the bench.
*Ollie said Calhoun’s wrist was “still hurting real bad.” He added that Napier is “feeling better. I don’t know if he’s available.”
“If you’re healthy, you should go out there and play. You never know if this is your opportunity to step out onto the court,” Ollie said. “I wouldn’t be inclined to sitting anybody. I’m going to play the healthy guys to finish on a high note. I won’t be inclined to sitting anybody down.”
*Ollie on Omar Calhoun: “He’s been showing his toughness, fighting through it. But he was lacking that shooting. But we still need him on the defensive end, where we broke down in the second half (against USF), and that doesn’t have anything to do with shooting or his wrist or the make-up of our team. I thought we put down our guard on the defensive end on that run they had and that kind of got the game out of hand. We have to do a better job playing defense”
*Ollie on the anticlimactic end to the season: “I’m proud of this team and these last games aren’t putting a damper on our parade. Other people can write that, but we’re not writing that in this locker room. Of course, things happen in life, but we’re making our own meaning out of them. I’m so proud of this group. It’ll be my favorite group forever – how they battled, played with each other, nobody expected anything but the guys in this locker room. If we get beat by 50 tomorrow, that’s not going to change any sentiments in my heart that I have for these guys.”
*Ollie on Tyler Olander: “He did a wonderful job in practice and in the games. He tried hard — stats wise, shots weren’t going in. I imagine he wanted to be a better rebounder, and we thought he would be. But hopefully he comes in next year and provides us that spark and gives us the rebounds we know he can get. I know he believes in himself, in his heart, that he can get them. He’s going to have a great senior year.”